Thursday, July 09, 2009

Max And Chuck....Listening To The Wrong People On Health Care

Ah, Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley. Two men that control a large portion of how health care reform will happen...or not. We've got to let them know that when it comes to industry lobbyists and the majority of Americans who are screwed by health insurance, the people must prevail.

Bloomberg And Quinn Team Up To Bailout Developers

A match made in heaven.

When Michael Bloomberg found Christine Quinn as Speaker of the City Council, there was no limit to how much love wealthy developers could see. In the building boom the city had seen during the last few years, huge developments were green-lighted and long-term residents were screwed by the lack of planning for schools and infrastructure. Now that the economy has soured, beautiful brand-new and expensive apartments are sitting empty and the developers that had them built are not seeing any returns on their investments. How could they solve this problem? Easy, have New York City bail them out under the guise of affordable housing.

Of course, this is really what it is all about:

Deputy Mayor Slush Fund Queen Christine C. Quinn and king Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a $20 million commitment to fund a pilot program that will turn unsold condominiums, market-rate rental buildings and stalled construction sites into affordable housing opportunities for moderate and middle-income families.

First, that the city will overpay for the condos, making this into a developer bailout program.

And second, that too much scarce affordable housing funding will be diverted from the low-income people who need assistance most to higher-income people who can afford the subisidized condos.

Even if the condos are rented to homelessness, the city is paying about 2,700 a month for each apartment such as in Crown Heights luxury condos. What an ineffective use of scarce resources when 2,700 dollars can house more than one family. This plan is to bail out Bloomberg's rich friends.

Ain't that nice?

Is this the type of tactic that makes people approve of Bloomberg?

I get that the people at Related, Vornado and Tishman-Speyer want to re-elect the mayor. The wealthy have a friend in Mr. Bloomberg, he is of course, one of their own. Yet for the vast majority of us who aren't millionaires, it is time for a change so that our money does not go to waste on bailouts like this.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch?

The rumors are flying fast and furious this afternoon. Now that it has been pretty-much confirmed that Paterson will appoint a Lieutenant Governor in a few minutes from now, the question of course is...who will that person be? The goal one would hope is that he or she is non-controversial and well-respected. Yet in these times, I don't even think Jesus or Gandhi could fit that criteria for all sides involved. So certainly Richard Ravitch will fall short for Democrats and Republicans.

From The Daily Politics:

Ravitch is the ultimate elder statesman. He has worked for a president (Lyndon Johnson), a governor (Hugh Carey), and is credited with rescuing the mass transit system in the 1980s.

Last year, Paterson tapped Ravitch to head a panel to figure out how to fix the cash-strapped MTA - again.

He also has ample experience in dealing with the unruly Senate - most recently this past year during the MTA bailout negotiations, which did not endear him to the Senate Democrats, who felt he misled them about needing $5 tolls on the East River bridges in order to close the authority's gaping budget hole.

Ravitch later said an Assembly plan that called for $2 tolls would also work. The final agreement ended up with no tolls at all.

UPDATE: The DN's Glenn Blain ran into Sen. Dean Skelos and asked for his reaction to the news about Ravitch. The Long Island Republican replied:

"Payroll tax Ravitch? Well, then he would fit the mold...of Gov. David Paterson because they both love to raise taxes."

It's Not What You Try To Spin, It's What Slips

Watch as this financial industry hack tries to explain why Congress should not pass regulations for Wall Street. He means to say that there should be something in place, but what he really means slips right out.

Finally, Paterson Might Do Something To Resolve The Senate Deadlock

For the last month, Governor Paterson has called for special Senate sessions and made statements about the stalemate following Espada and Monserrate's coup attempt on June 8. For the most part, he's been largely ignored, whether it be with those stern messages to get back to work or the declarations that Senators must gavel in and gavel out everyday, even if the sessions last three minutes. If he does what the rumors say during his special address to the state tonight, then Paterson might just being flexing some muscle.

From PolitickerNY:

ALBANY—There is certainly speculation, but nothing close to confirmation, that David Paterson will name a lieutenant governor this evening during an address that will be televised statewide.

The governor's office acknowledged that he will deliver a live, televised address "on the Current Senate Stalemate and its Impact on all New Yorkers" this evening at 5:01.

Several sources have discounted today's juiciest topic of conversation around the Capitol, saying Paterson will just use the time to continue his bashing of state senators on a wider platform. But I've heard from one person in conversations with the second floor that it is being considered.

Such a move would show bold, decisive leadership to trump the actions of a few corrupt Senators. It would definitely be a departure from his style of governing thus far in his term. Of course, he'll actually have to say and follow through for anyone to take it seriously. If he merely wastes five minutes of our time with more stern messages, he'll fall further down the power totem poll and boost Cuomo's 2010 primary bid (that is yet to be announced) even more.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Broken State Budgets: It's The Inequality Stupid!

Here in New York the state legislature managed to close a $17 billion dollar budget gap for this year. California is still working on a budgetary mess that makes NY's situation look easy. Most states around the country have had to skimp on programs and raise taxes due to this difficult economy, but there is one overarching reason why this is happening....and it boils down to the battle between the rich and the poor.

From Too Much Online:

Over recent decades, with more and more income and wealth concentrating at the top, those uninterested in public services have had the resources to do more than grumble about taxes. They’ve been able to bankroll campaign after campaign, in state after state, to roll taxes back.

Growing inequality has helped these campaigns succeed. With the economy’s rewards flowing to the top, and essentially the top alone, Americans in the middle have found their wages and salaries stagnating, even sinking. Tax cuts, for many in the middle, have come to seem the only way to make ends meet.

These tax cuts, once in place, start states on a nasty downward cycle. Tax cuts mean less state revenue. The lower the revenue, the fewer the dollars available for maintaining quality public services. The lower the quality, the greater the number of people who find themselves actively considering private service alternatives.

Soon the modestly affluent, not just the rich, feel better off going life on their own nickel — better off joining a private country club, better off sending their kids to private school, better off living in a privately guarded gated development.

The greater the number of affluent people who forsake public services, the more inevitable still more service cutbacks become — even in “good” economic times, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute noted last year in Pulling Apart, a detailed look at growing state-level inequality.

It is pretty straight-forward and makes perfect sense, yet legislators, fueled by the wealthy few that influence them, have stripped their states of protection and assistance for the least amongst us. Not only does that arrogance leave the poor to fend for themselves, it ultimately comes around to bite everyone, save for those that have enough money to detach from the community that helped build their wealth in the first place.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sen. Grassley Admits Gov't Health Care Works

Not in so many words, but his reaction to a constituent the other night showed the Iowan Senator's true feelings about government-run health care and not just the talking points he usually spouts to defend his vote for the health insurance industry:

Bloomberg Misleads Voters About City's Safety Status Again

Mayor Bloomberg is at it again with his false and misleading advertisements. His promise of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs has already been addressed. Now it is time to go after the "safest city in America" line. Bloomberg loves to claim that he is responsible for NYC's safe record, but the way he goes about it is disingenuous at best. In fact, he was already admonished by the FBI for the tactic four years ago.

Now it's back again:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election campaign claims the FBI ranks New York as the safest large city in America.

That claim is false and Bloomberg knows it.

The FBI doesn't rank cities and specifically states that it's misleading to use its statistics that way.

When Bloomberg made the same claim during his mayoral run in 2005, a complaint from the FBI led his campaign to yank the FBI reference from its political ads, according to an FBI official.

"They modified their ad," the official said. "But now they're doing it again."

Bloomberg is going to do and say anything to be re-elected as Mayor for a third term. That is why he must be checked, and Len Levitt's article in Huffington Post is a great example of taking on the billionaire mayor.

Why Bloomberg can't stick to the facts...well that just goes to show he is another typical politician trying to make himself out to be something he's not. He claims to be something different, but as we've seen with zoning regulations, over-development, term-limit extension and many other issues, he is nothing of the sort.

Where Are Your Principles Governor Paterson?

David Paterson has been suffering as governor for months now. Thanks to ineffective leadership, constant flip-flopping on everything from getting same-sex marriage passed to the structure of the budget and overseeing a dysfunctional state capitol, New Yorkers are clamoring for someone new next year. Now Paterson still has a few months left before Democrats coalesce around AG Cuomo in the primary, but siding with Pedro Espada will do nothing but weaken what support he has left.

From The NY Daily News:

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson said it may be time for his fellow Democrats to accept turncoat Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. in a major leadership role as warring state senators entered their fifth week of stalemate on Sunday.

"Whatever you think of [Espada], he has been given the highest position on the coalition side," Paterson told the Daily News. "You may not like him, but you have to respect him. That is where he is."

Where he is and where he is going are two completely different things. Pedro Espada is a politician of the worst kind. Flagrantly flouting the law of the land and making it clear that all he cares for is more and more power, Espada is the epitome of Albany's dysfunctionalism. We should be shunning him, not promoting him. I know Paterson, along with everyone else wants Albany to get to work again, but giving in to a common criminal and thief like Espada is simply unacceptable.